My grandmother – Nana – suffered a stroke in February and her health in recent months has been sliding. For weeks my mother has been indicating that Nana has been having trouble focusing and not always been ‘present’. I had not seen my grandmother since I visited her in mid-October. At that time, she looked weak but was still very much aware of her surroundings so when I was told she had suffered another mild stroke earlier this week and had been admited to the hospital, I decided to call in sick and pay her a surprise visit.
The 20 minute drive into the suburbs looked like a winter wonderland and provided me time to contemplate what I would say when I saw her. I was concerned that due to the stroke or medications she might not be alert, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that nothing was further from the truth. We had a wonderful conversation reminscing of stories from the past, talking about family members and the current holiday season.
At times the conversation was tinged with sadness, and it made me realize how very aware she was /is of her mortality. When sadness would enter her voice, I would acknowledge what she said and let her know I shared her sentiments, but I did not let her dwell on the moment or forget about how lucky we both were to have our family so close (both in proximity and emotionally). That was what our morning together was like; conversations about nothing in particular and enjoying our moment alone together. If I noticed she was sad, I would use my humor or wit to lift both our spirits.
However, when it was time to leave, I could not help but notice that the vivacious grandmother I knew most of my life has in recent years seen her spark dim. My grandfather passing away a decade ago followed by an accident a couple years ago that resulted in her taking a bad fall and now most recently her faltering health has changed the grandmother I have known most of my life. Today’s visit made me long to be back in my grandmother’s house like when I was a child. My memories of those years bring me tremendous comfort, and I will continue to wrap them around me like a thick blanket to ward off the cold feeling I had when I turned my back to leave her room in the hospital earlier today.